Acadiana Business

Chateau Mirage development district to be dissolved?

by Leslie Turk

An introductory ordinance aims to terminate the Community Development District created to help finance public improvements at John Montesano's development near the Mall of Acadiana.

At Tuesday's City-Parish Council meeting, an ordinance will be introduced to terminate and dissolve the Chateau Mirage Community Development District, created by ordinance in 2007 to help fund public improvements at Lafayette developer John Montesano's Chateau Mirage development near the Mall of Acadiana. At one time the development called for a $70 million championship golf course and gated residential community on 300 acres. At some point those plans were scrapped, and it's unclear what, if anything, Montesano still has planned for the acreage, which includes the Chateau Mirage patio home development and Chateau Mirage apartment complex at 1630 Rue De Belier.

ABiz's sister publication, IND Monthly, reported on May 29, 2007:

Insurance man John Montesano's south Lafayette golf course development is off life support, thanks to the Lafayette City-Parish Council. Because Montesano was unable to acquire property for the original layout of Chateau Mirage, his upscale golf course community near the Mall of Acadiana, he was forced to revise his plan. Due to the failed land deal (he at one time led officials to believe he owned all of the property), he also reneged on construction of a road behind the old K-Mart from Ridge Road to Target Loop - one of several connectors he was bound by ordinance to build and donate to local government. While it approved his revised plan May 14, the Lafayette Planning Commission required him to build portions of three additional roads, but the council overturned the decision on appeal last night. Montesano will have to build only an extension of New Hope Road (which is off West Broussard and leads to Acadian Village) and connect it with Town Center Parkway, another road he was required by ordinance to build. Montesano says Town Center cost him $4 million. The developer also is donating several rights of way for additional infrastructure improvements.

The CDD ordinance was approved later that year, in September 2007. CDDs are independent districts created as an alternative method to manage and finance basic services for community development through the levy and collection of special assessments. According to the ordinance up for introduction, the Chateau Mirage LLC originally intended that the district would "finance, fund, plan, establish, acquire, construct or reconstruct, enlarge, extend, equip, operate and maintain systems; (ii) water distribution and transmission and wastewater collection and transmission facilities; (iii) roadwork (iv) related incidental costs; (v) funding a reserve for the bonds, if required and (vi) paying the issuance costs therefore..."

The 2007 ordinance called for the creation of a board of supervisors, called the district board, to act on behalf of the district, but neither Chateau Mirage LLC nor the district board have ever taken any action on behalf of the district. No public financing for maintenance or improvement of services to the property was ever utilized, according to Tuesday's introductory ordinance.

That ordinance states that both Chateau Mirage LLC and the district board want the district terminated.

Montesano's office says he is unavailable for comment, referring ABiz to his son, Bruce, who did not immediately return a phone call.

Lafayette Chief Administrative Officer Dee Stanley, who in the past served as a liaison between Montesano, the developer's engineer and Public Works engineers, could not be reached for comment. Read more about the long-troubled development here and view the introductory ordinance here.